zaterdag 6 september 2014

Sahiron Syamsuddin and the Mutashabihat of Muhammad Shahrur

The Arab root of sh.b.h. has the meaning of ´to make equal or similar´or ´to resemble´.
It is used in Sura 4,153: shubiha lahum, it seemed to them as if they had crucified him, Jesus. This verse is also a first example of mutashabihat, or verses which have a dubious meaning. One may interpret this as if the Jews saw the body of Jesus, but it was in fact fake, it was a different body that was substituted for the 'real Jesus' and in fact it was someone else (Pontius Pilate? Judas? Simon of Cyrene?). We also may interpret this in the sense of the pride of Muslum in/after the battle of Badr who claimed that 'they had killed the enemies', but Qur'an 8:17 says: you did not kill them I have killed them.

A second meaning of mutashabihat is related to the idea of antropomorphism: God lookes like human beings, talks, sees, sits on a throne and is great.
 A third meaning is about verses or short phrases that are similar in wording and are put twice, sometimes even three times in the Qur'an. I even found a website, quite practical that gives many examples of this practice: Then we may ask why these doubles phrases are so frequent in the Qur'an?
Dr. Sahiron Syamsuddin 
I mention these possibilities, because Dr. Sahiron Syamsuddin of the UIN of Yogyakarta is now translating with some of his PhD Students my book on the Jesus Verses of the Qur'an. Sahiron himself hold a PhD from the University of Bamberg (2006). The title of his dissertation is Die Koranhermeneutik Muhammad Sahrurs und ihre Beurteiling aus der Sich muslimischer Autoren, Würzburg: Ergon 2009. In this book he studies the theories of the Egyptian scholar Muhammad Shahrur, from Damascus, a Syrian, born in 1938 who studied between 1958 and 1964 engineering in Moscow and later for some time in Dublin (1968-9). He specialized in soil mechanics, and foundation engineering. He taught between 1972 and 1998 in Damascus University. In the 1980s he published also some articles and in 1990 his first book on Qur'an interpretation. His vision is that a modern reader should not forget his modern science, but also apply his own knowledge and vision in the interpretation of the Qur'an. This is the general idea of hermeneutics: meaning is the result of communication between the sacred text and the reader. He applied this in the mathematical results of reading about inheritance (sura 4:11-12), on polygamy but also on the story of Noah and the technical details of the construction of the vessel that should rescue Noah's family. It is a quite detailed and complicated book: much about general theories, but also some clear examples. I trust that the translation of the book on Jesus will be clear and helpful as well.

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